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Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
I love the process of creating a brand (and this is more than just a logo – watch this space for my next post) and for small businesses this often involves their entire business proposition and positioning.
So when I work with my clients, the majority of whom run small businesses, when we talk about brand, we are talking about their whole business, their offering, their target markets and how they can differentiate themselves from the competition and entice their target markets to spend their money with them.
Many small businesses will start marketing and promoting their small business without really thinking through what it actually is they are marketing and promoting and this often means they end up spending money on marketing that’s not working as well as it should for them – because they haven’t thought it all through. So here are the three key things I get my clients to think about when we are defining their business brand in preparation for marketing it.
The WHAT, the WHO and the WHY…
If you know inside out, in detail, with clarity (you get the picture) WHAT it is you are offering then you can clearly communicate that offering in your marketing.
If you know WHO you are offering your products and services to then not only can you identify the particular needs of your target market but you can create communications to them that are targeted specifically for them and to address those needs – this means they are more likely to respond to your marketing because they will relate to what you are saying and how you are saying it.
If you WHY your target market would buy from you rather than a competitor – i.e. you know the benefits of your business for your target market and you know your competitive advantage – then again communicating this information to that target market becomes easy and more focused.
If you would like to know more about defining the WHAT, WHO and WHY for your business to make your marketing more effective and get more business then please feel free to contact us on 0845 272 3539 or visit our website for more information.
Tags: branding for small businesses, branding strategy, business brands, business marketing, Marketing, marketing for small businesses, marketing tips, small business marketing, successful marketing
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Monday, April 26th, 2010
It’s a blind date and you’ve been set up by your BFF with one of her boyfriend’s work colleagues. You’ve spent most of the afternoon getting ready, you’re on your way to the snazzy restaurant you both settled on and you’re starting to get a little nervous and wondering if he’ll be attractive, nice, interesting or funny – or all of the above.
Then you walk through the door and none of that matters. He takes one look at you and bolts through the back door! What did you do wrong? You didn’t even get to say hello. What on earth could have caused him to flee so suddenly?
Do you think the fact that you are wearing a wedding dress just might have had something to with it? Err duh! Of course! Who turns up to a blind date in a wedding dress? It screams D E S P E R A T E!!! And no-one wants to go out with someone who is that desperate – do they?
So is your business wearing a wedding dress?
What I’m really asking is: are you desperate for more clients? Has the last year and the economic crisis had a negative impact on your business? Is your business struggling? Would you do anything to get a flood of new clients through the door?
If you answered YES to any of these questions or would answer yes to anything remotely similar then your business is wearing a wedding dress and your clients and potential clients can probably tell that you are – just as easily as that guy could see the wedding dress (and his blind date) walking through the door of that snazzy restaurant!
The one thing that won’t get you more clients, more business, more money is looking like you are desperate for any of them. The key to having clients that are confident in you and your business is to maintain that confidence yourself. After all, most small businesses go through a quite patch at some point – mine did last summer – but what I didn’t do was panic.
Yes I was worried – it’s not nice to have a quiet time when you run your own business it’s lonely out there – but I stayed confident in what I was offering and the one thing I didn’t do was turn up in a wedding dress.
So what does a business wearing a wedding dress look like?
Quite simply it looks like any business that is doing this:
- Slashing their prices left, right and centre
- Over-marketing to the same groups of people or subscribers – this includes too many emails or too much follow-up
- Knee-jerking by trying to create new services or products without really planing them properly or thinking them through
- Coming on too strong in potential sales situations and then giving away too much too easily
- And many more
And just as turning up to a blind date in a wedding dress can be a bit frightening to the other party, so are the actions of any business that is panicking. People are turned off by it and may ultimately wonder if there is something wrong with your business which is causing you to panic.
So, even if times have been or still are tough -and they are for many – the one thing not to do is panic. Your customers and potential customers will know it and this will not encourage them to walk through your door but rather run the other way.
Confident marketing and branding is always important but never more so when things are hard and it’s easy to have a wobbly. Have a sit down and think about what it is that is keeping customers away (it’s usually more than just money) and see what you can do to fix it in terms of your marketing or your business model. Get creative and have fun with it – after all you have some time on your hands so you might as well stay positive and put it to good use!
Just remember to keep that wedding dress locked tightly away in the closet and make sure you have your best Marc Jacobs or Caroline Herrera outfit on!
Monday, February 15th, 2010
How to quick-start, kick-start your marketing….
If you know you should be doing marketing for your business but aren’t getting round to it then here are a few ideas to get your marketing off the ground, quickly:
- Find ONE networking group in your area and go along as a guest – more groups will let you participate as a member and you can meet new people quickly and easily without spending a fortune. It will also give you the opportunity to see if you might even want to join that networking group. If, however, you don’t think it’s for you then you haven’t spent a fortune to find this out.
- Sort out your email signature – if this doesn’t have – at the very least – your website address and your phone number in it – along with your logo, then you are wasting a FREE marketing opportunity every single time you send out an email. Ideally your email signature should also have a client testimonial in it and you can think about changing that every few months or so and perhaps promoting any special offers you have going on.
- Either start a blog or find one that perhaps you can guest post on. This is more simple than it sounds: go into Google Reader, browse or search for different types of blogs that have a relevance for your area of expertise or knowledge, visit the blog and send the owner an email offering your guest post services. You will get yourself some quick and easy online exposure (especially if it is a well-read blog) as your post will have your name, business and web link in it.
That’s it: a 1,2,3 way to quick-start, kick-start your marketing. It’s always hard to find time to market your business but if you need more customers then, without marketing, how do you think they are going to know about you?
Go on, get started today!!
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Yes I am having a rant!
Very simply, it really frustrates me to see “Internet Marketing” being touted as the answer to a small business’s marketing dreams. I come across so many instances of pure marketing being substituted with Internet marketing that I wonder if anyone who reads that information will ever move beyond the IM holy grail of building a list, selling online products and holding teleseminars and workshops (oh and don’t forget the flagship product of exclusive one-to-one coaching.)
So yes I am having a rant about how Internet marketing is portrayed and then perceived by its intended audience. What do I mean?
Tags: business marketing, How to market your business, Marketing, marketing experts and consultants, marketing for small business, marketing your business, small business marketing, successful marketing
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Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
This post covers what I think is one of the most effective ways of generating leads for your business: Networking – the traditional face to face type.
As most networking groups wind down for the Christmas break, now is the perfect time to look at what your networking strategy is going to be for the New Year. And by strategy I simply mean how are you going to be using networking to promote your business?
Networking is Marketing
If you aren’t doing any networking as yet for your business, it is certainly something you should be thinking about. Networking is a very useful marketing strategy. To get the most out of your networking, however, you need to consider the following:
1. Networking is a long-term strategy. You may think that if after your first networking meeting you don’t walk away with a new client then it has been a waste of time. Wrong! Although it is certainly possible to walk away from your very first meeting with a new client (or a potential one), it is not how you should be viewing your networking strategy. Networking is about meeting new people, developing relationships with them and establishing your credibility with those people.
2. Networking is NOT selling. I like to think of networking as a press release rather than an advert. You do not walk into a networking event and shout, “Hey I’m from Just Too Busy, I do marketing, come and buy from me or send me people who will!” That’s networking as advertising and there are some groups who think this is how it works.
What you should be doing is talking and listening to people at the event, perhaps making some suggestions based around your area of expertise, offering advice, giving feedback – basically being helpful and demonstrating that you know what you are talking about and are not at all interested in the sell, but in building relationships with your fellow networkers.
3. Networking is about brand. Taking into account points 1 and 2 above, your networking is about your brand. Your brand is the essence of your business and should be what you aim to promote at every single networking event. Promoting your brand means ensuring that you have a clear “elevator pitch” – one that tells people what you do without the sell attached. It also means that you have a very clear understanding of your business brand including your service/product offering and your target market.
4. Networking is about getting business. At the end of the day, networking should be about getting new business for your business. This must be the point of any marketing in the end. But it is how you approach that getting of new business that defines the type of marketing strategy you use. Networking is essentially about building relationships, establishing your credibility and promoting your business with a long-term view. Any networking that promotes quick wins or instant referrals isn’t promoting the type of networking that really works, the type that I like to call “authentic networking”.
So what is Authentic Networking? For me Authentic Networking is:
* Long-term investment of time (not just money)
* Developing new relationships (not just buyers)
* Being there to establish your credibility (not just status)
* Looking to gain freely given testimonials (not just pressured referrals)
* Helping your fellow networkers where you can (not just looking to sell, sell, sell).
So, whether you are already networking or whether you have yet to start, I hope these points will help you approach it in a way that in the long-term, both for getting you new business and for your reputation, will, I think, do you and your business the most good.
If you have any questions about your networking strategy then feel free to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: business marketing, business networking, how to develop your brand, marketing for small business, marketing tips, networking for your business, networking is marketing, successful marketing
Posted in Just Too Busy, Marketing | 1 Comment »
Friday, November 13th, 2009
Use joint ventures to cut your marketing budget in half and double your list…
Small businesses are always looking for ways to save money – especially right now. Joint venture marketing is a perfect way to do this. You share the costs and you share the list.
And it’s EASY!
So in this installment of the Marketing Basics: 17 Ways to Generate Leads for your Business, I am going to give you some ideas on how you can generate leads for your business while keeping your costs down using joint venture marketing. (more…)
Tags: business marketing, joint venture marketing, Marketing, Marketing basics, marketing budgets, marketing for small business, marketing tips, small business marketing, successful marketing
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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
How to break free of the marketing activities
that everyone else says you should be doing!
As a small business owner, responsible for pretty much everything from running the finances, to making the tea, from organising your diary to doing the marketing, have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the different marketing activities you think you should be doing – because everyone else is?
I know I have done in the past!
I have spoken to three people in the last week or so where the topic of conversation was just this: what marketing should I be doing and how do I know it’s the right thing?
With more and more ways to communicate with your target market, it seems that the choices for marketing activity is just growing. The explosion of social media has just compounded this. For example some people say that to be effective in your marketing you SHOULD be doing a monthly email newsletter, a weekly or daily blog, Twittering like crazy and regular online networking etc.
WRONG! Your marketing, your specific marketing for your specific small business, is just that: specific. Just because other people are doing those things, doesn’t mean you have to or SHOULD.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
When starting a business one of the first things everyone says they need is a business card. But how many of us actually think about why we need one?
What do you really use your business card for? Well, you can give it to people who you think might be interested in your business so that they can keep in touch with you.
But did you think that you can use your business card to actually encourage those people (or prospects) to “make that call”? (Or send you an email….?)
Yes your business card is a compact delivery method of your key company and contact info, but it is also a marketing tool. You can use your business card to deliver one of your key marketing messages; to get people to visit your site and sign up to your mailing list; to purchase and/or download a (free) report from you; to refer you to other people they know or to come back to your business again for a discount.
Yes your little 95mm x 50mm piece of card (with TWO sides) can do all that! Well, in that space it can certainly do one of the above as well as conveying your key company and contact information.
But first things first…..
When was the last time you updated your business card?
Was it when you started your business? Was it when you moved house or office? Was it more than a year ago? If so, have a think about getting your card redesigned and reprinted. The design, if you have a logo in place, doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time and you should be able to get a redesign done in approximately 2 hours or so.
So you can see it doesn’t have to cost a fortune and it will be the ideal opportunity to refresh your business look as well as make your business card more effective.
Your card as marketing collateral
Have a think about what you could do, discount or give away to encourage people to call you, email, sign up to your list or refer you to others. Just be careful not to use anything time restricted or stock limited. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Discounts: Offer a discount on their next visit to your shop on production of the card or a discount on your website if they quote a reference on the card.
- Referrals: Design your card so the recipient can put their name on it and their friend’s name on it, so they can claim their referral reward from you.
- Giveaways: Promote your free report or ebook on your card along with a reference number they need to quote when claiming it from your website.
Note: using reference numbers on your promotional marketing collateral means that you can track where the lead or customer came from and specifically which piece of collateral, from which specific marketing activity, brought them to you.
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up…
Now that you have thought of your marketing strategy for your business card, had it designed and printed and have started giving it away to all and sundry! What do you do next?
What most people DON’T do when they give someone their business card is follow up. In fact, most people who do any marketing for their business don’t follow up at all. Following up is key and it is really simple.
When you meet someone at an event, a meeting, a networking gathering etc, and they ASK for your business card (key point: don’t force your card onto people – they won’t use it and you will have wasted another small portion of your marketing budget) all you have to do is:
It’s not hard. When they ask and receive your card – ask for theirs back. Make a little note on the card to follow up (and any other info that might be useful) and then all you have to do is either send them an email the next day or give them a quick call a couple of days later.
What do you say?
Just that it was nice to meet them, if you can be of any further help etc etc. But the key thing? Reiterate whatever it is your business card asks them to (sign up/refer and get a discount etc) and leave it there.
They will either get back to you or they won’t. If they don’t you can choose to pursue them (I wouldn’t do this too much though) or you can call it a day. I would suggest that an additional follow up by email with a reminder to sign up to your mailing list or whatever it is you want them to do is sufficient. If you don’t hear anymore then fair enough.
But the point is that your business card is now working harder for you and your business. You are using it properly as a marketing tool and it will contribute towards your overall lead generation.
If you want to talk about how to make changes to your business card or want some ideas on what you could do with it then feel free to get in touch. You can email me on email@example.com or you can call on 01932 219069 and ask for me. I would be delighted to hear from you and to help if I can (and don’t worry – I don’t bite!).
Tags: business marketing, communicating, Marketing, marketing for small business, marketing tips, small business marketing, successful marketing, using your business card
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